Bitcasa Ends Unlimited Storage

Reminder: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Bitcasa, a cloud storage service that initially made waves with a low cost unlimited storage offer is scrapping this option entirely — claiming it’s not being used enough to justify the high costs of dealing with a small group of what it dubs Terms of Service abusers.

Bitcasa is a former TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield finalist. It started out, back in 2011, offering unlimited cloud storage for just $10 per month. Less than three years later that unlimited promise is no more.

Writing on the Bitcasa blog detailing its new pricing structure — and also an overhauling of its backend storage infrastructure, which it says should yield improved upload/download performance — the company notes:

Bitcasa will no longer offer or support the Infinite storage plans. This is due largely to the lack of demand, but also because of persistent abuse of our Terms of Service. Only 0.5% of our accounts require more than 1TB, and less than 0.1% require more than 10TB. The reality is while we have tried to make our vision of infinite work, the low demand combined with the growing number of suspected abusers, means that supporting an Infinite plan is not a viable business for us. To help provide a solution for large storage needs we have increased our Pro plan from 5 TB to 10 TB to accommodate all but the largest accounts.

The choices facing unlimited users of Bitcasa wanting to continue using its service are to drop down to a 1TB premium plan, costing circa $99 per year, or pay $999 for a 10TB pro plan.

Since Bitcasa has increased the storage capacity of its pro plan — from 5TB to 10TB (to better accommodate those exiled from the land of unlimited storage) it has also increased prices for that plan. The monthly price was $49 and is now $99 for new subscribers.

Existing users of its pro plan will continue as before, with 5TB of storage and their current pricing. They will also auto-renew at their current pricing and 5TB of storage. So it’s no change for them.

The changes will obviously be most disruptive for Bitcasa unlimited users — and especially those who have been storing more than 10TB of data with the service, and paying just $99 per year to do so. One such irate user emailed TechCrunch, dubbing the changes “the worst customer service ever.”

However it’s not as if there weren’t warning signs that the ending of Bitcasa’s unlimited storage might well be nigh.

Last November the company cranked up its prices for the unlimited storage plan — to $99 per month for new users. Those who bought in when the cost was a mere $99 per year and are now facing a price hike to $999 are obviously going to be disgruntled.

The time period in which heavy users of Bitcasa have to migrate their data to a new plan (or elsewhere) is also not very generous. Users have from yesterday to November 15 to migrate their data. “All accounts and data not transferred to the new system will be deleted on November 16, 2014,” it adds.

Bitcasa ending the unlimited storage option entirely arguably reduces its differentiation vs other cloud storage offerings. It’s evidently hoping improved efficiencies in its back end infrastructure, plus a continued commitment to “zero knowledge encryption” (client-side encryption) will help it hold on to most of its customers and continue to attract new ones.

However the company looks to be shifting its focus to more of a b2b play. In May this year it made a bid for developers’ business by adding a service called CloudFS, which effectively makes the Bitcasa consumer service available via APIs — allowing developers to take advantage of the platform in their own applications in an unbranded way.

That new focus moves the business away from the more crowded consumer cloud storage space, although when it launched the feature this May the company said it is still committed to the consumer space, and claimed it was not pivoting. Consumer users of Bitcasa were pegged at more than one million at the time.

Pivot or no, with more of a focus for its business on developer customers, it arguably makes sense for Bitcasa to reduce its risk by removing unlimited storage.